By Ed Odeven
TOKYO (April 27, 2014) – I wrote a lengthy column on well-traveled former NBA player Walter Palmer for Sunday’s Japan Times (see link below). He’s become a global sports union leader in the past decade, starting out as a co-founder of the German basketball league’s union.
Space didn’t permit all of our interview topics to be featured in the article.
Here are a few of the other things Palmer talked about on April 14:
*On ex-Utah Jazz teammates John Stockton and Karl Malone’s mastery of the pick-and-roll: “People aspire to that. You are putting people in position where they have to make a choice, and if you can get your team to play the pick-and-roll correctly, then you are forcing the defense to make a choice, and then you exploit it. They are going to have to choose one or the other; if they take away one thing, you take them the other way. … And so that’s a very high-percentage play. That’s why you see it so much.
“It’s amazing to me sometimes how, when I do have a chance to watch an NBA game, if it’s not run correctly like I saw it with Stockton, who was a master, then it makes me kind of cringe, but that’s a key part of the game.”
*On need for patience for fledgling players associations around the world, including the Japan Basketball Players Association, founded in 2013: “It took the NBA Players Association 10 years just to get recognized. So we have to be realistic about that…”
*Responding to my question about who should replace Billy Hunter as executive director of the National Basketball Players Association, Palmer declined to name any suggested persons for the job. But he did say, “My hope is that they would find someone with union experience and organizing experience, and not just somebody with a business orientation, but somebody that’s going to work in partnership with the league and actually understands unions.”
*On Dirk Nowitzki’s lasting legacy for German basketball: “He’s done everything he can to develop the game back in Germany and develop other players, help other players, and that’s not something you see all the time.”
*On Nowitzki’s overall career, now being in the top 10 all time in scoring in the NBA and his career as a whole: “One of the key things about Dirk was winning the championship (in 2011). Winning the championship was so important. And when I hear now that Kevin Durant is learning from his mentor, Holger Geschwindner, that was the key for Dirk, the individual coaching that he received, his talent and the professionalism is absolutely amazing what he’s done, and the skill that he has and he’s developed.
“Now you are seeing something similar in Kevin Durant, which I think is very interesting to model that. Dirk is a great example of loyalty to his franchise. and obviously he’s been a great player, so it’s easy for the franchise to be loyal to him. He’s been on the same team for his whole career and it Looks like he’ll end his career there, and that’s also something that’s very special.”